Falling apart has deep restorative value; the key is loving yourself through it to emerge stronger, more aware, and more alive
Dear love — Here is a radical proposition. Something you may have never heard before. My radical proposition, my radical piece of advice is this: It’s okay to fall apart. It’s okay to freak out and be a mess. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s good. It’s necessary.
If your intuition has led you to this article, chances are, it’s time for you to fall apart—on purpose.
In modern Western society, we have been taught not to fall apart. We have been taught the moral imperative of sucking it up and holding ourselves together. Of wiping away those pesky tears, slapping a smile on our face, and muscling forward through will power and positive thinking—regardless of our emotional needs and realities at the moment. We may feel exhausted. We may feel lost. We may feel ambivalent or angry or remorseful, but still, there is always this pressure to keep moving. In our society, we are taught to keep moving, keep doing, keep going. Have a goal. Have a plan. Take action steps to make our dreams come true. We are the masters and creators of our own destiny—so don’t wait, don’t doubt, don’t fail.
But what happens when these mantras just don’t make sense anymore? What happens when we come to a point in life where pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps now seems, actually, impossible?
If you’ve been drawn to this article, chances are, there’s something intense going on for you right now. Maybe it’s a divorce or the death of a loved one. Maybe there’s a frightening diagnosis. Maybe memories from a traumatic past are starting to surface. Maybe you’re exhausted and can’t seem to stay awake at work. Maybe you’re on edge all the time and keep snapping at your family. Whatever the case may be, something’s definitely happening.
This is an important crossroads for you, an important moment. Please pay attention. The various emotions you are feeling are not a fluke or a mistake or an accident. What is happening is trying to guide you—to somewhere totally new.
What most requires your attention right now is you: your heart, your mind, your spirit. They all need healing. The place inside of you that feels broken, bruised, and failing—that’s exactly the part of you that needs your own attention. It’s something only you can give; it cannot come from anyone else.
For a period of time, make peace with falling apart, with becoming vulnerable, with not knowing what the heck is going on. Allow the external/outside world to be as it is. Let it rest. Your primary concern now is your own healing—and not your children, not your partner, not anyone but you. This is your time.
As you undergo this healing journey, remember the challenging truth: Society will not give you permission to fall apart. Don’t expect it to.
In order to heal, truly heal, you must be ready to gather your courage and be the natural-born rebel that you already are. You must deviate from the ‘normal’ ways. You must break free from the mindset that you are only as valuable as you are being productive in making money or reaching career goals or being the best mother or father or wife or husband you can be. You must realize that this is a moment where the game of life changes.
However frightening this shift might feel, though, take comfort! Your choice to allow yourself to fall apart is not just a choice you make for yourself. Your healing journey will have a radical, positive impact on others. Your bravery will carry on, beyond yourself. In the future, as you talk about your experience, and share what you’ve learned with others, you will be giving permission and support to others who also need, desperately, to fall apart. You will heal others by healing yourself.
So, what exactly does this ‘falling apart’ look like? Based on my personal experience, here are some suggestions and concrete practices that I have used to heal myself from a dark, devastating past: depression, suicidal tendencies, PTSD, and multiple chronic illnesses. (The healing process is ongoing, but I have come through the worst of it.) Through these ways, I have freed myself to intentionally surrender, to fall apart, and heal myself at my very core.
Cry When You Need To
Dear love — Repress those tears no longer. If you are in public, cry. If you are alone, cry. There is nothing, I repeat, nothing shameful or bad about crying. Crying is a natural process of healing. Yucky emotions and traumatic old memories can clog up the body’s energy systems, and crying is a beautiful way to detoxify. Your heart is longing to find release. Cry, cry, and cry some more.
Let Go of Timelines
When I offer this teaching, one of the questions most asked is: How long will this falling apart take? Dear love — if I could offer you a definitive answer, I would. Yet, I can’t. The truth is, there are no timelines. It may, simply, take a few hours of intense sobbing. Or, maybe it will take a full weekend of wearing pajamas, ignoring the phone, and taking baths. Or, maybe you will need weeks or months. Your journey is unique. Let go of timelines, and trust your intuition. It will take exactly how long it’s meant to take. Falling apart requires surrender of the logical, rational modes of clocks and calendars. It requires a new way of being in the world.
Give Your Body the Rest It Requires
Your body is yearning for rest. This is one of the simplest methods of curing disease, as well as preventative healthcare. Your body wants to heal. Give it the downtime it needs in order to do so. If it is difficult for you to be still, you can practice a variety of forms of visualization meditation in order to keep your mind occupied.
Here is a simple example: As you lie on your bed, imagine light entering the crown of your head and moving down toward your heart, then radiating down your arms and down your legs to the tips of your toes. Bathe your body in white and gold light. Breathe into the light and feel it in every cell of your body.
Re-Assess Your Values
There is an immense value in surrender, in falling apart. There is a value in allowing ourselves to venture to the dark, scary places from which we’ve been running. This ‘value’ is not in the commercial, monetary sense. Instead, its value stems from a deeper knowing. Falling apart is an inescapable step in the path of personal growth.
It’s time to re-assess your priorities and values. Ask yourself: What has my life been about? What would I like my life to be about in the future, after I have completed this stage of my healing journey? Chances are, you are growing increasingly fed up with the standards and values of mainstream culture. You are seeking deeper sorts of fulfillment. You realize that money and prestige cannot buy happiness. Ask yourself the deeper questions and give yourself permission to listen to your inner knowing. Your inner knowing can guide you in ways that are much more powerful than any book you can read or any teacher you can consult.
Do you keep a journal? If not, now would be a great time to start. There is something so soothing about putting pen to paper. In our age of clicks and keys and screens, there is something refreshing, something exciting, about writing by hand. As we write, slowly, with our hands, we watch new truths revealed before our eyes. We enter a meditative state. We relax the body and mind, as we meet ourselves—our deeper selves.
Sometimes we might think we’re doing nothing, but, in reality, that’s not really true. Watching Netflix all afternoon is not nothing. Curling up on your couch with pizza and cookies is not nothing. Numbing out on beer or wine is not nothing.
If we avoid the world but then also avoid our difficult emotions, we are not really healing anything—we are simply delaying the process of healing. In order to heal, we must allow ourselves to feel. And, in order to feel, we must intentionally not run to escapes, distractions, and coping devices. We must turn, instead, to the activities that bring comfort to our bodies but also allow us to consciously enter the dark, scary places of our hearts and minds.
For example, when I know that it’s time to feel some negative emotions, I sit on my couch and listen to some music that has been specifically designed for healing. My personal favorites are the beautiful chants of Krishna Das and Snatam Kaur.
Allow Others to Take Care of You
In our modern Western culture, it is usually seen as shameful to show vulnerability and ask for help. We have been programmed by our culture to strive to be super humans—to flex our muscles and smile—all the time.
It is time to let go of the notion that the only way to be good is to be ‘strong’. Sometimes, actually, the strongest thing is admitting you need help. If it is possible that you can take some time off work and simply allow those you love to take care of you, there is no greater way to accelerate your healing process. In allowing yourself to fall apart, to surrender to the loving care of others, you cut to the very core of healing.
Visit A Healer
We live in a time when information is plentiful and healing is never far away. Even if you live in a small town, it is likely there is someone near you who offers healing without a white coat and prescription pad. Find someone who resonates with you. Your healer may be a massage therapist, a Reiki master, a professional cuddler, a sacred intimate, or a trusted Tarot reader. Find someone who feels loving and supportive, and allow them to make your journey a little bit easier.
Many people speak of “the dark night of the soul”. It’s become a cliché because it’s real. It’s something that most everyone, at some point, experiences in their life. However, a majority of people only experience their dark night when they are forced to—when they collapse during a time of intense hardship and suffering.
Dear friend, dear love — My advice is this: Surrender now. Fall apart. Choose it, consciously. Dare to fail society’s standards for just a little while. See what happens. Slow down and allow the Universe to speak to you. Go inward, feel your heart, feel your emotions, and forget the outside world for just a little while. Go inward, into the cocoon you create for yourself. Give yourself the attention you so desperately deserve. When you emerge from this dark place, the whole world will look different because you will be different.
You will have wings.